Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of August 7.
Hideki heating up
Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have been mentioned as Player of the Year candidates. Time to throw Hideki Matsuyama into the mix. The fledgling star took a torch to Firestone over the weekend, cruising the Akron property in a record 61 strokes on Sunday to capture the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It was his third PGA Tour win of the season, and sixth worldwide victory since the Tour Championship.
“My expectations at the beginning of the week weren’t that high,” said Matsuyama after his round, “but here we are.”
“Here” being Matsuyama holding the trophy on the precipice of the PGA Championship. Fans and media — bunch of bastards, that media — have hyped the year’s last major into a two-man showdown between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. One issue: 154 other players are entered in the tournament, including Matsuyama, who’s finished inside the top 15 at every major this season, highlighted by a runner-up standing at Erin Hills.
Better yet, his notorious short game woes (181st in strokes gained: putting) were tamed at Firestone, with a new flat stick offering much-need relief. Matsuyama has been on the verge of his major breakthrough for quite some time. Perhaps Quail Hollow — a course that caters to second-shot precision — will be his long-awaited platform.
Charley Hoffman, the Human Highlight Reel
A week after Hoffman’s, ahem, generous ruling — and subsequent epic interaction with partner Kevin Chappell — at Glen Abbey, the 40-year-old provided another instant-classic line, this time in exchange with his caddie.
Standing at Firestone’s par-5 16th, bagman Brett Waldman begged Hoffman to lay up on the hole they call the “Monster.” The advice was not heeded…
True, this lost a bit of luster on a few fronts; mainly, that Hoffman failed to get up-and-down for birdie, missing silver medal honors by one shot. Still, to call off your loop in favor of a 280-yard approach over water — and more importantly, proceed to pull it off — has endeared Charley in our hearts forever.
The 290th time’s a charm
It took Chris Stroud 11 years and 290 events to find the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour. You better believe he’s soaking up the spotlight. Stroud made three birdies and an eagle over his final five holes at the Barracuda Championship to earn a spot in sudden death against Greg Owen, who was making his 265th start without a victory, and Richy Werenski, a former Big Break champ. On the second playoff hole, Stroud logged a bird to earn his inaugural win, and the two-year tour guarantee that comes with it.
“It’s been a long time,” said Stroud. “My caddie said today before we teed off, he said, do the best you can today, let the trophy come to you. Can’t say any more than that.”
(Hope you’re taking notes, Waldman.)
The triumph also gets Stroud into this week’s PGA Championship, which has to be the first time someone was elated to fly from Nevada to North Carolina.
Solheim Cup rosters announced
Following the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, captains Juli Inkster and Annika Sorenstam named their wildcard picks for the upcoming Solheim Cup. But the bigger news relates to who was left off.
Inkster added 18-year-old LPGA rookie Angel Yin and 25-year-old Austin Ernst to the U.S. squad, while Sorenstam brought on Anna Nordqvist, Emily Pedersen, Caroline Masson and Madelene Sagstrom for the Europeans. Notably absent from the red, white, and blue is former U.S. Open champ Paula Creamer. The 31-year-old, who has struggled as of late, has been a member of the past six Solheim Cups and recorded the third-most points in team history.
“Paula was upset,” Inkster said. “I’d be upset, too, but I explained to her why I picked these two. She understood. She didn’t play well enough the last year and a half, two years. She left it in my hands. But I’ve got a lot of respect for Paula, her and her game, and believe me, she’ll be on many more Solheims to come.”
Also on the roster: Suzann Pettersen, she of the infamous no-concession at the last Solheim Cup. Don’t worry; I’m sure the overserved crowd won’t hold those transgressions against her in the least bit.
Steph shines in professional golf debut
Steph Curry’s invite to the Ellie Mae Classic drew its share of skepticism. Turns out, the two-time NBA MVP is just as good as shutting down haters on the course as he is on the court. The Warriors star posted consecutive 74s in the Web.com Tour event, a performance that garnered praise from the rest of the sport’s professional landscape.
“It was nice kind of keeping my composure. Everything was just an unbelievable experience,” Curry said on Friday. “Shooting two 74s, I’ll take that. I wanted to shoot a couple fewer strokes than I did, but for the most part, when you don’t really know what to expect going in, it’s hard to really set expectations. After how yesterday went, I’m extremely proud of backing that up with a solid round.”
It was truly a win for everyone involved. Well, except Cavs fans. While their team is combusting in front of their eyes, their rivals are excelling at sports they do in their spare time. At least Browns season is right around the corner.